MMI Visiting Artists
The MMI identifies and develops relationships with established masters in Mediterranean musical traditions, making their work available through clinics, master classes, and performances in both Boston and Valencia. Here is a list of some of the artists that have visited our campuses.
Naseer Shamma is an Iraqi composer and oud virtuoso, sometimes called "the young Ziryab" in reference to the great musician of Al-Ándalus. Modern and original, one of his contributions to the development of the oud is the manufacture of the eight-stringed oud (instead of the traditional six strings), constructed according to a manuscript by the great ninth-century scientist, musician, and philosopher Abu Nasr Al-Farabi. On February 21, 2017, Shamma was named a UNESCO Artist for Peace. He visited Berklee's campus in Valencia, Spain, on March 13, 2017, as part of the MMI's Circle of Peace initiative. His visit was hosted by the contemporary performance program.
Damian Draghici is a legendary Romanian pan flutist and a member of the European Parliament. He was born in Bucharest, Romania, growing up in a very poor but musical Gypsy (Roma) family. In his late teens, he escaped the grip of Nicolae Ceauşescu’s oppressive Communist regime by walking alone hundreds of miles to freedom, found work as a musician in Greece, and ultimately received a full scholarship to Berklee. After graduating in 1998, his dazzling virtuosity as a jazz improviser on the panpipes grabbed the attention of top musicians in Los Angeles and elsewhere. He has made some 19 albums for a major label and toured the world. In 2014, he became the first Romanian of Gypsy heritage ever elected to the European Parliament.
Antonio Serrano, a sought-after harmonica virtuoso, is one of the most promising young Spanish jazz andflamenco musicians in the country. He has also studied piano, violin, percussion, music reading, music history, art history, and choral ensemble in conservatories in Madrid and Alicante. Serrano has been a member of Paco de Lucía's group for the last 10 years and before that he played and/or recorded with Larry Adler, Toots Thiellemans, Wynton Marsalis, Jerry Gonzalez, Chano Dominguez, Lou Bennett, Jorge Pardo, Vicente Amigo, Tomatito, Armando Manzanero, Luis Salinas, Javier Colina, and others. Watch a video of his visit to Berklee's Valencia campus or watch him perform.
Pepe de Lucía, a composer and cantaor (singer), is a living legend in the flamenco world. Along with his brother, Paco de Lucía, he is considered one of the greatest flamenco guitar players of all time. The brothers' professional journey began at a very young age, when they toured the world as a duo called Los Chiquitos de Algeciras. Pepe de Lucía won his first national prize at 16. He's since collaborated with some of the biggest figures in flamenco song and dance. Watch de Lucía perform.
Faiçal Kourrich is an expert in North African, Middle Eastern, and Spanish music. After graduating from the Rabat Classical Conservatory with honors and winning their Classical Violin First Prize, Kourrich played with the Ibn Batouta Orchestra in Tangiers, and later toured Spain with the Andalusí Orchestra of Tangiers. He's since collaborated with Spanish, Middle Eastern, and Turkish artists. Watch a video of Kourrich's master class here.
Petros Kourtis is a master in ethnic percussion, particularly of instruments originating in Greece, Cuba, Brazil, and Arab countries. He studied classical percussion at the Municipal Conservatory of Zografou in Athens, and later continued his studies at Berklee. He has taught at the Philippos Nakas Conservatory since 1994, and collaborated with the most distinguished Greek musicians. Watch a video of Kourtis's master class here.
Israel Suárez, known as "El Piraña," is one of the most renowned cajón players in the flamenco world. The son of Ramon "El Portugués," he began his career by joining Nina Pastori's group. He's since collaborated with many renowned artists and now works with flamenco guitar legend Paco de Lucía. Watch a video from Suárez's master class.
Belén López is one of the most passionate and roots-driven rising stars of flamenco dance. Still young, this Catalán dancer has already had a long and occasionally difficult career. She began her studies at 11 years old at the Madrid Dance Conservatory. She's also been the prima ballerina at the Arena di Verona on Franco Zefirelli's Carmen. Watch a video from López's master class.
Pablo Alborán is a singer with seven platinum records. He was the best-selling artist in Spain in 2011 and 2012, setting a Spanish record for a debut album. His song "Solamente Tú" ("Only You") became the best-selling song of 2011. Alborán been nominated for three Latin Grammy Awards, including Best New Artist, Best Male Pop Vocal Album, and Best Song. He's also won an iTunes Rewind award for Best Spanish New Artist. Watch a video of his visit to Berklee's Valencia campus.
Genara Cortés, a singer and composer, was born into a Gypsy family of flamenco-singing lineage and is considered one of today's wildest voices. Her father, the "Genaro," was a flamenco master who toured the world. She began her career by singing and dancing in flamenco clubs and soon began collaborating with notable flamenco artists. She's spent seven years touring the world as a lead singer in the Joaquin Cortés Flamenco Company and has written the lyrics for many of the songs she performs. Watch Cortés perform at the 4th Berklee Middle Eastern Festival.
Sandra Carrasco, a singer, is a unique, young voice in the flamenco scene. After studying music education and flamenco at the University of Huelva, Carrasco went on to amaze the world with her breathtaking voice. She has won numerous awards, including the prize of the Association of Nerva in Seville, Spain. She has since toured the world and collaborated with renowned flamenco artists. In April 2011, she released her first album. Learn more about Carrasco.
El Chispas (Rafael Jiménez) is a member of the new generation of flamenco percussionists. Born to flamenco guitar greats Antonio Jiménez, also knowns as "El Chispas," Rafael Jiménez has collaborated with many flamenco, jazz, and Latin artists. He is known for his precision, virtuosity, sensibility, and musical intelligence. Watch a video from his master class here.
El Melón (Daniel Jiménez), a composer and a great flamenco guitarist, is well known for his accompaniment and performances. He has taken the genre's traditional roots, inherited from flamenco legends, and injected them into new musical styles. Today he is on a worldwide tour of Indian flamenco fusion, with sitarist Anouskha Shankar, the daughter of the late master sitarist Ravi Shankar. Learn more about El Melón.